Before him, foreign men-at-arms, their armor sleek and unsegmented, as if skin. Their frames twisted, proportions exaggerated, each point of bone tipped witch swooping, doubtlessly sharp curves of alien crystal. Truly alien visages, staring at sometimes him, sometimes those below, judging all who stepped upon their hallowed ground, who dared fly within their sky. An invading host from a world beyond the light of their sun.
Perhaps it was a similar feeling to first seeing the great Khan's horde at your city's gate, or the men who rose from the foam of seas, axes in hand and woad paint upon their skin. Perhaps Bedwyr was less the one-armed knight that returned the sacred sword to the lake, and more the raider in service of he who slew the Picts to take the isle for his own, apocryphally or otherwise. Whatever these massive, oversized yet underwrought things were thinking behind their dull emerald eyes and featureless masks... They looked upon the landing team as what they were.
<<Don’t start anything if you can help it but you are not, I repeat not, expected to let them take the first shot.>>
Konstantin Stojanović, the man of a hundred sorties upon Ganymede, breathed in deep as a very familiar swelling sensation rose from his chest, a rising lightness and tingling crack of electricity through his veins. He knew when he was being sized up. He had already done much the same since the time the plumes of dust and ancient soil had cleared. With respect, officer, the question was not of if.
Merlon, equipped with the new eyeball tracking package and machine-learning integration, watched the pilot's pupils dilate in anticipation, a primal focus directed upon two gleaming mockeries of the simian form, 500 meters below. That was a whole lot of metal cast without regard for the electromagnetic spectrum— nice and big radar signature. Easiest target it ever painted.
The awakened pair continued to swivel their "heads", impassively regarding the team. For a moment, one might have been forgiven for regarding the embattled pilot as paranoid, guilty of projection, far too bloodthirsty in his own right. And that may have perhaps been true, for that moment.
Then their gazes snapped to Gypsy Soul.
A rush flew through Konstantin, liquid lightning that rendered him pale as blood traveled to more important places than skin.
Mouths that could not be seen ripped open, a violent, discordant, and distinctly metallic trill piping into the man's ears even as it shook his cockpit. Like an engine shoved into a trash compacter, really. It set his ears, his skin, his mind on fire.
A gleam of fool's gold, twin points of infected sunlight coalesced before them, still focused squarely upon the fey mech.
The trigger was pulled.
And then there was thunder, meeting their beams of malignant ichor with the relentless fury of a storm. All four of the E-30s mounted upon the OF-02D's hull roared in percussive symphony, drowning out metallic screech with a cascade of eighty millimeter gunfire. At the same time, the steady mech-scale chug of the Super 22s heralded the sands below blossoming into a shower of flame and force, 105mm canisters delivering cones of explosive hail downrange.
Let it begin.